One of the most frustrating issues that a homeowner or renter can run into is an issue with water pressure. This is especially frustrating because we use water in practically every task at home.
Whether it’s with cooking, or laundry, or merely just the everyday cleaning tasks. So when your water pressure drops for no apparent reason, and then later returns full force, you have a frustrating problem at hand.
Intermittent water pressure can be caused by a whole bunch of different reasons. From equipment failure to the water table itself. Often it is a small problem that can be solved with a little troubleshooting.
If you are having issues with intermittent water pressure, don’t call your local plumber just yet, you could have a simple fix on your hands that will only take a few dollars and a little of your time. A good place to start when troubleshooting well water , is simply understanding how the system works as a whole.
Where Do You Get Your Water
So most people in the world with running water are going to be getting their water from one of two sources.
You will either be getting your water from the city, or you are going to be getting your water from a well. Both of these sources can develop issues keeping a steady water pressure, though they are going to be caused by totally different reasons.
If you are living in a rural area, you more than likely have a well. Well systems are prone to a slew of potential problems that residents who draw their water from the city do not have to deal with.
These problems could be as simple as a faulty pressure switch, or plumbing that has been compromised or could be that the well pump itself is failing.
It could even be that the water table the well is drawing from isn’t stable.
In most cases, if the well water drops then come back, your best bet is to call a certified plumber. Because water and electricity don’t mix and there are live wires in your well-house.
However, don’t throw in your cards just yet.
If you are living in an urban area you are drawing your water from the city water system. This type of system pulls water from a nearby lake, river, or water table and holds it in a reservoir ready for the use of every house or business attached to their system.
The good news about having intermittent pressure on city water is that if it isn’t on the city side of the deal, it’s in your house, and that is generally a pretty affordable do-it-yourself fix. More than likely it’s a clog somewhere along the plumbing, or the street-side valve may have gotten buried and partially closed the valve.
Troubleshooting whether your pressure issue is pretty quick on city water, just ask your neighbors how their water pressure is. If they are doing fine, then it’s a problem in your plumbing system. If they are also having issues, then it’s the city having problems and they will fix it generally within the day.
If you are the only one experiencing problems, it could be as simple as checking your faucet aerator or showerhead.
Understanding Water Pressure
Your water pressure, whether you have well water or are in the city, is measured in the unit known are psi or pounds per square inch. So if your water pressure is 45 psi, then that means the water in your plumbing is exerting 45 pounds of pressure on a single square inch, where this may get confusing is that it means 45 pounds of pressure on every single square inch of your plumbing.
City water pressure is provided by the city pumping water into a reservoir such as a water tower. The pull of gravity itself is what supplies water pressure with enough force to provide for every house attached to the city water system.
What keeps this immense force of water from blowing your faucets off the sink is a regulator valve that sits on the city supply line before it feeds a pressure-regulated water line to your house.
Well water, on the other hand, uses an electric pump that pumps water into a pressure tank that has a bladder that is charged with air to a certain psi. As more water fills the tank, the psi of the air bladder increases.
This bladder is what pushes the water out of the tank and out of your faucet when you open it.
How to Find the PSI of Your Well Water System
You can test the psi for both city and well water in the same way, it’s a fairly simple process. A water pressure gauge is a common tool you can pick up from most supply stores, even Walmart will carry these.
To Use a Pressure Gauge to Find your PSI
- Find one of your outside spigots.
- Remove the hose if attached, you never get pressure from a hose.
- Attach the water pressure gauge.
- Open the faucet all the way.
- Record the psi presented.
The reason you check your pressure at the spigot instead of checking the air valve on your pressure tank at the well is that the psi of the tank varies high and low. This is how a well pump works, like an on/off switch.
The well pumps water up to a certain psi and once it reaches that psi it turns off. As you use water the psi lowers and once it hits a certain point, say 40 psi, the well kicks on again and will run until it brings the psi back to its higher set point.
What to Check For and How to Fix Water Pressure Drops
If you have issues with your water pressure dropping out on you and then coming back, there most definitely is something going on with your well.
The first thing you should do just to double-check is check the other faucets in the house to see if it is only the one faucet or showerhead that is having the issue. Also, check the aerators of your faucets to see if there is clay or sand or some kind of sediment build-up that could be causing the problem.
✅ Check Our Recommended Sediment water filter for well water.
If the is no sediment and the other faucets of your house are experiencing psi drop, then the problem lies with the well itself.
As stated before the pressure tank of the well is what acts like an on/off switch for your well pump. These tanks have a air-filled bladder inside of them, when water is pumped into the tank from the well the psi inside the bladder rises. Once the psi gets to a factory-determined setpoint, the pressure regulator switch will turn off the pump.
Next Read: Low Well Water Pressure? Reason and How to Fix (Easy Checklist)
As you use water the psi inside the tank drops and once it hits a set low point, usually with a differential of 20 lbs from high to low, the regulator will turn the well pump on. This cycling is what keeps the pressure inside your houses plumbing even.
So if you are experiencing issues with your water pressure, either the tank or the regulator is at fault.
To Check your Pressure Tank
- Turn of the power to your well.
- Open a faucet or spigot and let the psi push all the water out.
- Use a tire pressure gauge or pressure gauge with a Schrader valve to check the psi.
- The pressure should read with 2 psi of the low point, above or below, this is normal well water pressure
If the psi reads a significant amount lower, then the bladder itself is busted and your pressure issue is caused by the pressure tank.
If the psi reads fine, go ahead and turn your well’s power back on, and let the pressure tank charge. While keeping an eye on the psi, go ahead and open a faucet to drain the tank. If the pump doesn’t kick on once the pressure gets to its low setpoint, then you have a faulty pressure regulator switch.
Three other Considerations to Pay Attention to.
1️⃣ The water table may have dropped below where the well is, causing it to draw air into the system. You will be able to tell because there will be dissolved gases in the water that pours from your faucet.
2️⃣ The well pump may be clogged. This happens especially in areas with fine particulate soil such as sand.
3️⃣ The well pipe itself may have broken in the ground. This can cause the well to draw in air with the water, explaining the weird changes in water pressure you may be getting.
Well Water Pressure Related Questions
How to Increase Well Water Pressure?
If your pressure is fine, in the sense it doesn’t drop and come back but is too low, there is a simple fix. Your well has a pressure switch that can be easily adjusted with a wrench. simply, adjust it slowing and check your pressure as you go.
A psi of 65-70 is generally what most residencies are set to and is considered the standard.
How to Check the Pressure Inside the House?
A store-bought water pressure gauge should easily fit onto the water connection of your laundry machine.
If you change your tank and pressure regulator and the psi still doesn’t work properly?
Then it’s time to call a master plumber. Odds are the well was dug incorrectly, but getting an eyes-on professional opinion is the only way to go at that point.
Well, Good Luck
If this is the first time you have dealt with good issues it can seem a little overwhelming. However, if you are the DIY type of person then learning how wells work and how to fix them is very rewarding. Often overlooked, plumbing is one of the cornerstones of modern civilization.
If you don’t have the time or patience to figure the issue out yourself, then there are tons of professionals out there willing to do the job.